Art auction twist seeks volunteer hours instead of dollars

Columbia, SC (WIS) - You've probably heard the saying 'time is money', and this Thursday night it will be truer than ever at an event that's the first of its kind in Columbia.

Several young professional organizations are hoping you'll come out to bid on art auction items at the event "Time for Art" with your hours instead of your dollars.

More than 30 local artists, like Lee Breuer, have donated their work to the auction. "I enjoy sharing the gifts that God's given me," said Breuer. "They're getting their hands dirty, and I'm all about getting my hands dirty."

The aim is to get people to come out and bid on artwork not with cash, but with volunteer hours to be performed at local community organizations.

"Why not come up with a new twist on an old event and have a silent art auction,  where people could find their passion for their time, talent and treasure and give back by bidding their volunteer hours," said Nate Klein, who serves on the Executive Committee of United Way of the Midlands Young Leaders Society.

"Time for Art" is Klein's brain child. He first launched the event in Columbus, Georgia where he was working back in 2012 and says it was the first of its kind in the nation. When he moved to the Midlands in 2013, he said he couldn't wait to test the event in Columbia.

"The value of a volunteer hour is around 20 dollars," said Klein. "These pieces of [donated] art range anywhere from 200 to 700 dollars."

Klein adds with time as your money for the evening, you get to choose which community organizations you will serve the volunteer hours that you bid. He says whether you bid 10 or 70 hours for a work of art, there are several organizations that will be at the event that are always looking for volunteers.

The Special Olympics South Carolina is one of those non-profits. "We have over 400 competitions throughout the year, and we only have 12 full-time staff," said Leigh Cheatham, the Director of Communications for Special Olympics SC. "So you would imagine with 400 activities/competitions throughout the year…we live on our volunteers."

After making your bid, organizers say you can split up how you donate your time. You cannot take home the artwork the night of the event, but once you have proved that you served the volunteer hours, the art is yours.

"We really want 'Time for Art' to be this conduit for young professionals to go find their passion," said Klein. "Whether it's with one organization or many, we want them to give their time, talent and their treasure to whichever organization they're passionate about, and we just want them to get connected and give back."

'Time for Art' is this Thursday night at 6pm at Stone River in West Columbia. Tickets are $35 dollars for the general public, and $25 for members of the event's partnering organizations.

The event is hosted by Young Professionals of Greater Columbia and Lexington County.